Do you ever feel that making progress in one area of your life leads to sacrifices in another? For example, you work crazy hours on your business to-do list, but then don’t see your children properly for a week or you go all-in on personal development only to neglect your relationship with your partner.
When things get out of balance, your wheel of life creates a very bumpy ride. It means even if you’re riding high in one area of your life you can’t feel truly fulfilled because you’re falling short elsewhere.
So what’s the alternative?
You can’t create more time and you probably feel as though you can’t reduce your to-do list. But you need to do something because the stress and overwhelm is dragging you down. It’s also starting to affect your self-confidence.
So if you’re ready to do it all, here’s a strategy that works.
- Make work-life harmony a non-negotiable
Short-term sprints are useful when they help you knock out stuff and create wins for your life.
They’re not so good when they become your norm.
If you always wait until an area is so out of balance you have no choice, but to put things right, you’ll never create the life you really want. When you’re always jumping from one thing to the next in a race to keep all your plates spinning, it’s inevitable something will fall.
It’s so easy to convince yourself that you’ll sort your relationships, me time, business, finances, health (whatever it is for you), after you’ve cleared your to-do list and when you finally have the time to focus elsewhere. The problem is, it’s unlikely that time will ever come.
You’ll always have more work to do. There will always be other tasks that get added to your to-do list. If you’re always sprinting, that’s going to become your default.
The only way to do it all is to make work-life harmony is an everyday non-negotiable, not a goal.
That means drawing up the plan that will help you achieve it today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, but today. Where there’s a will there IS a way.
- Figure out what work-life means for you
Next up, get clear on what work-life harmony looks like in your life. Don’t worry about what others do, instead focus on what YOU want. This is a personal journey.
A good way to achieve this is to map out your perfect week.
If you could wave a magic wand and your perfect week came to life, what would that look like?
- How would you start your day?
- How would you nourish yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually
- What would your work look like? How much time would you spend? What tasks would you be doing? What support would you have?
- What would you do as well as work? What hobbies would you invest in? What free time would you have? How could you use that time to inspire your life (rather than recovering from a work overload!)
- How much quality time would you have with your children, friends, family, or partner? How would you spend that time?
Until you have a clear idea of what you really want, it’s impossible to figure out how you’re going to get there!
Mapping out your perfect week creates the gap from where you are now to where you want to be. Create a gap and you create a goal and the impetus to take action to get there.
Your perfect week also gives you focus. When you know what you want, your subconscious has a funny way of helping you to make it happen.
- Take control of your time
When you’re overwhelmed with pressing deadlines and priorities you can’t keep on top of, you can’t be productive.
Stress leads to brain freeze, indecision, and inaction. It actually means you get less done – not more.
Ingrained habits don’t help either. When you’re buried in to-dos it’s tempting to force yourself to sit tight and keep going. But bandwidth is finite. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Try to keep going when your mojo has disappeared and you aren’t getting anything finished efficiently.
So quit planning your day to complete your work.
Instead, plan your time to build your perfect week.
Don’t leave all the other areas of your life to chance. Instead, plan when you’ll schedule them in so you do get it all done.
Here’s a simple way to do it:
- Plan how many minutes you need to complete each task – so you can get real about how much time you need to do it all.
- Next, create a weekly overview where you figure out what days you’ll do all your tasks to ensure it all fits in.
- Work productively and efficiently
With your weekly, work-life harmony drawn up, the next step is implementation.
The key here is to work productively and efficiently so you don’t squander time. Make it so you’re ‘on it’ when you need to be so work doesn’t start eating into the time you’ve scheduled for your life.
There’s a whole lot you can do here to make it all happen. For example:
- Diligently plan your day with a tool like the SELF Journal. Don’t leave your minutes to chance. Instead, allocate them mindfully and intentionally
- Start building routines by scheduling the same tasks as the same time. For example:
- 6pm – 6:30 becomes your daily playtime with your kids
- Work finishes at 5pm giving you time to decompress so you can bring your best to your loved ones, hobbies, and other interests
- You walk first thing in the morning so that’s ticked off before the day even starts
- Use deadlines to give yourself a hardstop so you don’t spend longer on tasks than you really should.
- Track and manage your time using a timer or the Pomodoro technique.
- Identify what tasks you can delegate or pay someone else to do (including tasks in the home) so you have more freedom to spend your time where it matters the most
Embed the structures, routines, and processes that will empower you to use your time well and you’re more likely to be able to do it all.
- Reflect and review
It can take a while to achieve work-life harmony – especially if your current patterns are ingrained and well worn in.
So factor in regular reflection so you can ensure you’re always headed in the right direction. This means ending your day tallying your wins and reviewing lessons learned:
- Did you get distracted?
- Did you stick to your schedule?
- Did you make time for it all?
- If not, what can you adjust going forward?
As well as reviewing progress against your daily and weekly plans, check in to ensure you’re still on track to achieve that perfect week.
Remember, a goal and an intention is the first step to making it all happen.
Learning to be productive is about more than being able to stay on top of your workload (or increase it). It’s also a skill that empowers you to create and live the life you want.
With the right goal, plan, and intentions, you can make it happen – all of it.